It is natural for companies that have achieved great success in domestic markets to look outward and consider increasing the scope and scale of their operations by entering new and exciting markets.
International marketing supports these new global objectives by positioning and readying the brand for entry into new countries and regions. If you are considering going global, then you may be wondering how to diversify your current content marketing strategies and campaigns for the task ahead.
Identify potential markets
A global marketing push does not have to be time-consuming and expensive, but you should aim to streamline your target regions by conducting a brainstorming session beforehand. This will enable you to filter any countries and markets that could potentially pose major challenges.
New territories should ideally have a low language barrier. If you are based in the UK, for example, English-speaking audiences will be more receptive to your current marketing materials. This is because there is usually a crossover in culture and demographics, which can mean that core messages may only need a slight tweak.
You also have full knowledge of the costs involved and the resources you will need to support expansion. This is something that is outside of the domain of marketing, so if you have been tasked with the job of coming up with new campaigns, it is likely that you are already trading in certain regions.
One thing that is important for marketing is market research. In addition to outlining the demographics of a new market, you should also be aware of the culture, the general economy, specific behaviours and habits that are unique to that country, and any important regulations and legal barriers.
What channels should be prioritised?
International marketing is easier than it was two decades ago thanks to the meteoric rise of social media. Big brands now have the opportunity to engage with an audience of billions around the world via platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Hootsuite’s Digital Global Statshot report found that there were 3.96bn people actively using social media channels in June this year, which is more than half of the global population. For companies big and small, social media is an incredible entry point for new markets.
When targeting new markets, it can be tempting to open up a plethora of accounts for each foreign market. Levi’s, for example, has a number of different accounts. Take a quick look and you might see one for the Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa and the UK. However, this sort of mass-scale account strategy should be reserved for only the biggest businesses.
If you are dipping your toe into international markets for the first time, just continue with a single global account for now. A cautious approach is best here. You can also expand when the demand is there.
Getting translation and transcreation right
Globalising your business requires localised content built from the ground up for specific markets and regions. If you don’t have access to a skilled internal team, you can support your outreach by partnering with an agency that specialises in transcreation and translation.
Establishing an authoritative, authentic voice is crucial, so you need to start building a creative process that takes new and different audiences into account. When content is drafted for a new market, audiences are more likely to engage and resonate with materials that are tailored for their expectations and needs.
Understanding the culture and customs of a country or region is also a part of this. Committing cultural faux pas can torpedo campaigns regardless of your intentions, so familiarise yourself with cultural norms, national holidays, religion, and anything else that will enable you to come up with content that is respectful and engaging.
Social media management
Content distribution also matters on social media, and now you will have to factor in time zones if you don’t have any personnel in specific countries ready and waiting to post your materials.
Research shows that timing has a direct impact on engagement rates, and this will extend to each of the markets in which you are operating. For example, a post published at 10am in the UK would pop up at 5am Eastern Time in the US, which is not ideal for the latter.
Engagement rates also differ for each platform, so take note of these by analysing relevant data. Global engagement on Instagram often peaks between 11am and 12pm on a Wednesday and Friday, while Sundays are a quieter period. Depending on your audience, take these fluctuations into account.
Mike Zani, CEO of The Predictive Index, notes: “Time zones, language and cultural appropriateness all need to be considered when you branch out internationally. If you don’t do this ahead of time, you run the risk of offending your international partners by appearing to be more concerned about yourself [than] them.”
Social media management is another process that you can outsource. Consider working with an agency if you need help with coordinating posts across a range of platforms to drive engagement and other important social signals.
Update your website
Building a multilingual website is another important aspect of the international marketing equation as you will be aiming to direct people from your social media posts to your webpages. Serving up an experience that befits the expectations of customers in other markets should obviously not be overlooked.
The translation services mentioned earlier are crucial here as you will likely have a mass of copy that needs to be updated for new languages. You should also adapt visual content for each market and optimise your pages for SEO. Search carries just as much weight internationally as it would for your local efforts. Finally, make sure that your site is multilingual with a language menu that is simple to access and works correctly.
Entering new markets is quite the undertaking, then, but with the right approach to social accounts, an awareness of cultural norms, a tailored creative process and an updated website, you can go some way to ensuring that your adventure to new pastures will be a success.